Urban living in healthy Tanzanians is associated with an inflammatory status driven by dietary and metabolic changes

Godfrey S. Temba, Vesla Kullaya, Tal Pecht, Blandina T. Mmbaga, Anna C. Aschenbrenner, Thomas Ulas, Gibson Kibiki, Furaha Lyamuya, Collins K. Boahen, Vinod Kumar, Leo A. B. Joosten, Joachim L. Schultze, Andre J. van der Ven, Mihai G. Netea & Quirijn de Mast
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Sub-Saharan Africa currently experiences an unprecedented wave of urbanization, which has important consequences for health and disease patterns. This study aimed to investigate and integrate the immune and metabolic consequences of rural or urban lifestyles and the role of nutritional changes associated with urban living. In a cohort of 323 healthy Tanzanians, urban as compared to rural living was associated with a pro-inflammatory immune phenotype, both at the transcript and protein levels. We identified different food-derived and endogenous circulating metabolites accounting for these differences. Serum from urban dwellers induced reprogramming of innate immune cells with higher tumor necrosis factor production upon microbial re-stimulation in an in vitro model of trained immunity. These data demonstrate important shifts toward an inflammatory phenotype associated with an urban lifestyle and provide new insights into the underlying dietary and metabolic factors, which may affect disease epidemiology in sub-Sahara African countries.